Throughout history, honey bees have played a vital role in agriculture. Along with producing honey, bees pollinate many of our fruit and vegetable crops. In Ohio, these include apples, melons, cucumbers and pumpkins. Nearly one-third of our diet benefits directly or indirectly from honey bee pollination.
Viruses, mites, and beetles can harm bee colonies. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon in which worker bees seem to simply disappear, is also a major concern around the world. The Apiary Program, conducted through the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), works with several national groups and the USDA in providing samples for the study of CCD which caused massive colony deaths in various parts of the nation, including Ohio.
In Ohio over 4,400 beekeepers were registered with the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2014. Nearly 200 of these beekeepers were registered throughout Summit County. Approximately 90% of Ohio beekeepers have five hives or less. Although Ohio Revised Code 909.02 requires that all active bee colonies be registered, many beekeepers choose not to. This can pose a wide variety of issues and can jeopardize the health of our local bee population.
The registration fee for ODA is only $5.00 and the application can be found at: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/public_docs/forms/Plant/2013%20Apiary%20Application%20.pdf
The Apiary Program coordinates the state and county inspection services that help to ensure a healthy beekeeping industry. ODA County Apiary Inspectors play a valuable role identifying issues related to bee hive design and colony location. A trained inspector can help in identifying potential disease that could negatively impact, or even wipe out a honey bee colony.
If you are considering keeping bees always check with your local community to determine if there are regulations regarding keeping of bees. Also, speak to your neighbors first to discuss your plans and what beekeeping entails, especially if you live in a neighborhood where the houses are in close proximity.
If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper contact the Summit County Beekeepers Association, as they offer beginners Beekeeping classes. You can contact them by calling 330-971-8425. Or you can contact the Ohio State Beekeepers Association, their program consists of a Certified Master Beekeeper Program. You can contact them by clicking on the link below.